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Moon will likely obscure meteor shower this week

Three meteor showers are coming in the next three months.
Three meteor showers are coming in the next three months.(Alaska's News Source)
Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 7:07 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Orionids meteor shower will peak Wednesday night, Oct. 20-21. This means sky watchers could see between 15 and 20 meteors per hour under optimum conditions.

This year, the peak of the Orionids coincides with the full moon. Even if the skies are clear, the moon’s light will make it difficult to see most of the meteors.

The Leonids in November will have the same issue, peaking during a full moon. During the Geminids in December, the moon won’t be full, though it will still be bright for part of the night.

Though the Orionid meteors appear to radiate from the Orion constellation, there’s no need look that direction. The meteors will appear across the sky and the meteors that appear near the radiant point tend to have shorter tails and go by quicker.

The Orionids are created as Earth’s atmosphere collides with the dust and tiny bits of rock left behind by Halley’s Comet, or Comet 1P/Halley. The pieces of rock and dust hitting the atmosphere are about the size of a single grain of Grape Nuts cereal. Halley’s comet will next return in July 2061.

Meteorologist Tracy Sinclare spoke with Tony Rice, NASA ambassador, about the difference between meteors and fireballs in this week’s Sky Watch Alaska.

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